DPS hyper-controversy   

Arshid Malik

The recent hyper-controversy about the dress worn by a female teacher of Delhi Public School, Athwajan Byepass has catapulted into a major “debate” about the credentials of the school. It also highlighted the “scenic” temperament of the population of the valley, Kashmir being the “sanctum sanctorum” of petty conservatism, and possibly all else including the “funding” Kashmiri people receive and from what sources besides the legitimacy of the cause of the “freedom struggle” of Kashmir.

That is what and how controversies are. People need something to perch on and they start plucking its feathers like monstrous chicken. And the tragedy often is that we miss the basic issues and indulge in conscious and subconscious mudslinging with all our might. Once the winds start blowing in the deserts of the mind, the eye of reason is often blinded.

My argument is not regarding what happened in Delhi Public School but about what the school did in the aftermath of the controversy.

Let me check in certain truisms about Kashmir which have stayed put for the past decade and a half. Kashmir is a very volatile region marred by frequent eruptions of violence. Kashmir has been converted into a docile domain of fundamentalism even though most of the population is quite conservative but not into fundamentalist beliefs. Even though a democratic government is in place in Jammu and Kashmir people are sometimes “coerced”into following the diktats of the separatist leadership since the wilder end of the channel of violence is in their hands.

Some people may feel like opening up and witnessing fresh new levels of individual liberation but there is a heavy cork screwed into the societal bottle which keeps everything inside, which means there is no “going out”. The writers, thinkers and artists of Kashmir have to play it very cautious and most of the times are not able to exercise their respective arts not only for the fear of ostracism but for the fear of actually losing their lives. In the nearby context it is in place to mention that every day or at least every other day a dead body or two are recovered in the waterways and woods of Kashmir whose causes of death and identities are difficult to ascertain.

Now, in the light of the above paragraph I think by rendering a public apology, DPS did the right thing. What else could they have done? Could they afford to stick to their opinions about dress code and let the winds of violence blow into the school and char it. The school has the responsibility of protecting the children while they are inside the school or in transit in school buses to their homes and given the turbulence in Kashmir they could not afford to not tender a public apology.

What I am saying is that DPS may have been wrong in offering differences over an Islamic dress code and that too in the sensitive month of Ramazan but all kudos to them for coming off board and protecting the lives of thousands of students of the school. In the light of the top rank of the separatist leadership having condemned the event of DPS objecting to the Islamic dress-code terming it “shameful”, the school waved in the right direction lest the fallout could have been disastrous.

Even if one child, could have been yours or mine, were to get hurt, what would have been the reaction of the parents? We all love our children and now we know for sure that the school loves them equally and cares for them. How can you stop an angered mob from setting a school bus or the entire school on fire while it was occupied? How can you stop an unruly group of youngsters pelting stones at a DPS school bus and injuring students aboard the bus? You can’t, and when you know that you do the right thing.


  1. Sounds like a PR for ‘Dhar Public School’. If the author thinks that the ‘Govt.’ in Jammu Kashmir is a democratically elected one then he is surely hallucinating and far from connected with the ground realities. The monopoly of the violence also lies in the hands of the repressive and illegitimate State structures, the ‘separatist’ doesn’t even a public space to talk about their politics, how the author justify saying ‘the wilder end of the channel of violence is in their hands.’ ? Op-ed writers such as Mr. Malik write articles criticizing things but if someone criticizes their articles they waste no time in misconstruing such criticism as threats of ostracism or violence. Pity!
    The school did the Kashmiri society no favour by apologizing and neither did any conscientious member of the society threaten to harm the kids who attend this school. Wasn’t it the students of the school itself who protested against school? Following which the school just closed down for ‘summer vacations’ breaking the protocol of all the previous years. The apology was no apology at all, it was mere lip service which Mr. Malik deems laudable, in fact Mr. Malik seems to have gotten carried away due his own biases.
    P.S.: There are far better schools in Kashmir than DPS, whose stated mission is the ‘integration’ of Kashmir with India.


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